FOR MY BROTHER: REPORTED MISSING IN ACTION, 1943
Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirsts,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveler.
Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?
Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed -
Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.
When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.
For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand
And buy you back to your own land:
The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
For Those Who Have Fallen
As I've said here before, my father was killed in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The son of two of my dearest friends was killed in Iraq in 2005. On this Veterans Day I think of them. For them and all who have fallen with them, here is Thomas Merton's marvelous poem, one that has been especially dear to me since I first read it many years ago: